Just three years ago, Jordan Wynn’s future looked bright after a record-setting freshman season and Poinsettia Bowl MVP honors.
Now his football career at Utah is over after yet another shoulder injury, suffered in Friday’s overtime loss at Utah State.
”Enough is enough,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Monday in announcing Wynn’s decision to end his career because of an injury that likely will result in a fourth shoulder operation. ”He’s going to move on with life after football. He’s fought the good fight.”
Wynn was injured late in the second quarter after being hit while dropping back to throw. He lay on the ground for a while before being helped off, holding his left, non-throwing arm against his chest.
He was 6 of 11 for 47 yards with three sacks Friday.
Wynn finished his career as one of 11 quarterbacks in school history to throw for 4,000 yards (4,637 yards, eighth all-time), with 33 touchdowns and 17 interceptions and a 14-7 overall record.
But he already had three shoulder operations: one to repair his left shoulder after the 2010 spring game, one on his right in December 2010 and another to his left last October.
After talking the situation over with his father, and Whittingham, Wynn decided not to attempt yet another comeback.
”We really appreciate what Jordan’s brought to our program … the toughness he’s shown, the resilience he’s shown,” Whittingham said as he geared up to face rival Brigham Young on Saturday night. ”I think we’re all on the same page. And if he were my son, I’d probably encourage him to do the same thing.”
Whittingham said Wynn, who earned his degree in 3 1/2 years, will stick around the team the rest of the season to help the two quarterbacks now fighting it out to replace him: senior Jon Hays and freshman Travis Wilson.
Last season Hays was thrust into action despite never having played Division 1 football.
He initially signed with Nebraska-Omaha after a junior-college career at Butte College but came to the Utes when Nebraska-Omaha eliminated its football program.
The result was a scaled-back Utah offense that relied heavily on running back John White.
”We don’t think we have to reel things in and modify what we’re doing because of the progress he’s made from last year,” Whittingham said of Hays.
”He’s markedly improved. We’ve got a lot more confidence in him. I wouldn’t say there was a lack of confidence, but there were a lot of unknowns.”
Hays, who finished with a 6-3 starting record last season after a rough start, said he’s ready to take over.
”If I learned anything from last year, it’s that I need to be ready at any point. I felt comfortable with the offense. I was prepared,” said Hays, who quickly engineered a drive before halftime Friday but couldn’t pull off the win.
The 6-foot California native was one of the most accurate passers in preseason, and despite being overshadowed by the 6-foot-7 Wilson, earned the backup job to Wynn.
Yet Whittingham may decide the future is now for Wilson, who has seen spot action in various wildcat packages and gone 3 for 3 passing, with one passing TD, and two rushing touchdowns.
With BYU (2-0) coming to town, and now ranked No. 25 in the latest AP poll, Whittingham isn’t tipping his hand. He said he won’t name a starter until game time Saturday night.
”May the best man win,” Whittingham said.
He acknowledged the gap between Hays and Wilson is close, and Wilson would see spot duty even if he doesn’t start.
”There’s nothing right now other than experience that (Wilson) hasn’t demonstrated,” Whittingham said of the 18-year-old freshman. ”People react differently when you’re the guy. Right now Travis hasn’t been the guy. He’s been a supplemental guy.”
Wilson, who graduated from San Clemente (Calif.) High School early, has maintained since spring football that he’s confident enough to start.
”I’m really disappointed with what happened to Jordan,” Wilson said while walking to team meetings Monday. ”It’s a tragic thing. I hope he can keep his head up, keep fighting and get through it.”
As for turning the season around for Utah (1-1), picked to finish second in the Pac-12 South, Wilson remained steadfast.
”I can do it,” he said. ”I’m really excited. I just hope I can do something and everything will work out.”